YouTube Content Stealing Spambots on Reddit

Reddit is a good place to share content, but also a good place to attempt to make some money on clicks from unsuspecting or indifferent users. Lately I’ve been seeing a pattern regarding videos stolen from other YouTube channels, reuploaded and monetized with ads. These videos are then mass posted on Reddit by bots masquerading as real users.

tl;dr: Spambots are posting links to stolen videos on Reddit, copying comments from others to masquerade as legitimate users.

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StartEncrypt Vulnerabilities

In my last post I wrote about StartCom’s new StartEncrypt service and its misleading advertisement email. In it I mentioned that they were not using the ACME protocol that Let’s Encrypt is using, but their own StartAPI protocol, for which documentation is behind a login. Their client was also not open source.

It didn’t take long for the first security issues to be found. Computest found multiple vulnerabilities in the StartEncrypt API and client, the most critical of which allowed the user to fetch certificates for domains outside their control. Domains like google.com, facebook.com etc. The following quotes speak volumes about the security of StartEncrypt:

A malicious client can specify a path to any file on the server for which a certificate is requested. This means that, for example, anyone can obtain a certificate for sites like dropbox.com and github.com where users can upload their own files.

[...]

The client doesn’t check the server’s certificate for validity when connecting to the API, which is pretty ironic for an SSL tool.

As Computest points out, when a certificate authority publishes a service which such problems, they are undermining the thing they are paid for – the trustworthiness of their certificates. Personally, after the latest events with StartEncrypt, I would no longer recommend StartCom to anyone, for neither paid nor free certificates.

Misleading StartCom Advertisement

Before Let’s Encrypt existed, I – like many others – used to use StartSSL, which offered free domain validated TLS sertificates. It was a useful service, but not without its flaws, for example the user interface was very clumsy to use. When Let’s Encrypt arrived, the automation made me jump ship immediately. But a couple of days ago I got an email from StartCom, the company behind StartSSL, that piqued my interest.

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Announcing Code::Stats

This is a project that I’ve been working on for a month or so on my free time (of which there really isn’t too much). I started it on my company’s 12 hour hackfest, where I didn’t get anything worth showing done (it was all backend stuff), but now it’s ready to be published. *drumroll* So, it’s time for the reveal:

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State of Web Development 2016



Honestly, some days it feels like web development is the art of building a self-aware network of node.js packages that sort of does what you need it to do… until someone on the other side of the planet inserts a breaking change in a patch version and the abomination you have created decides to set your house on fire instead.

And I Feel Alive



’Conqueror’ is about a world that is kind of falling apart around you, and you’re looking for a conqueror to save you. But you’re looking for the conqueror in someone else, which I think is something you should not do. You should find the conqueror in yourself first, and be your own hero. If you stand strong, then you will stand for a bit longer.

Use WhatsApp via Your IRC Client with BitlBee


NOTE 2016-09-21: It seems whatsapp-purple has been abandoned by its maintainer. So the things in this guide may stop working over time, and your mileage may vary. This guide is left here for posterity.


Perceptive readers may know that I use a Jolla as my phone. This places quite a few restrictions on what programs can be used on it. For WhatsApp I used to use a native application called Mitäkuuluu by coderus. Unfortunately at some point the program was discontinued, the official Android® version did not run well on the phone and the whole thing was a hassle. So I searched for an alternative way of using WhatsApp, since it has some people I would have trouble contacting otherwise. Since my IRC client is always running (on my server) and is something I check often, I looked into what BitlBee had to offer. I got a setup working and decided to document it for others.

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Automating Let's Encrypt with simp_le

Let’s Encrypt is the new free, automated and open certificate authority, that I talked about in a previous post. The part that I’m focusing on in this post is automated. Let’s Encrypt is all about automating the certificate request and renewal process, and they encourage this to the users by offering a good client – and by only giving out certificates with a maximum of a 3 month validity.

I’m not good at remembering things months down the line, especially if I have to deal with multiple different subdomains. That’s why I wanted to automate my certificate renewal process.

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Mebe Forked

Just noticed someone has forked Mebe into their own version. Haven’t looked at it more thoroughly, but looking at the feature list they have added lots of useful stuff and removed stuff that Mebe still has that is specific to my own blog (I’m working on removing them piece by piece). If interested, you should totally check it out on Github: https://github.com/nmqanh/geekpress.

This is the first project I have that has been forked by someone, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 😊 Though also a bit embarrassed of all the things they have had to fix in the engine… Anyway, such a great motivator to see someone use something you have created.

More Mebe Benchmarks

You may remember that earlier this fall I found out just how much faster a 2048-bit HTTPS certificate is for the server to handle. Now that I got one from Let’s Encrypt, I decided to redo the performance tests with the new certificate all set up. Since I ran out of credits on my blitz.io free account, I did the new tests with loader.io’s free tier instead. That’s why the graphs are a bit different this time.

Before I go into the HTTPS results, I will bring some context. You might remember that last time I got about 730 requests per second served over HTTPS with a 2048-bit key, and about 1380 requests per second for plain HTTP. Quoting myself from that time: “So fast… 🚀”. Turns out I spoke too soon. By disabling some extraneous console logging, I was able to more than double the performance. Let’s see the latest results.

For reference: The server is an online.net Dedibox XC with an 8-core Intel Atom C2750 processor and 8 GB of DDR3 RAM.

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